Using a different metric than the one I’d use, the Washington Post grades candidate responses to "the Pakistan test." The WaPo editorialist liked John Edwards, who managed to get Musharraf on the phone, and Edwards is loving the opportunity to appear "presidential", despite the fact that conducting diplomatic relations with other nations, especially in times of crisis, is currently President Bush’s job.
As I said, I’d grade the candidate reactions somewhat differently. Their job at the moment is to sketch in broad strokes what their approach to foreign policy would be, when they sit in the Oval Office, not to pretend they’re sitting there now. If they step beyond this bound, all they do is send a confused message to foreign leaders and make it more difficult for the current President to do his job.
By my metric, by the way, HRC and McCain do well, as do Romney and Giuliani, the former for reasons stated by the WaPo editorialist, the latter because they attempt to put the events in a larger context. Make no mistake about it, all the responses are political and pitched to meet campaign necessities. HRC, for example, was highlighting her experience on the world stage, something Obama can’t match.
But the fact that all the statements and actions were intended to gain a narrow political advantage and the fact that none of the actors can be held responsible for his or her actions and statements is precisely what makes it so inappropriate for them to go beyond the kinds of general statements offered by Romney and Giuliani. And even in those cases, they reacted before the President did, which strikes me as unseemly.